United States v. Brown, No. 10-2747 (8th Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
Defendant was convicted of second degree murder for the stabbing of a fourteen-year-old and assault with a dangerous weapon for the stabbing of a seventeen-year old in Indian country. On appeal, defendant argued that the district court erred in imposing mandatory minimum sentences under 18 U.S.C. 3559(f) because age was an element of the offense that must be found by the jury, and in denying her motions to suppress evidence and to sever counts of the indictment trial. The court held that the district court did not commit plain error in imposing the minimum thirty-year sentence for second degree murder of a child under the age of eighteen mandated by section 3559(f)(1) because the age provisions in section 3559(f) were sentencing factors. The court also held that, given the violent events of the night in question, the officer had probable cause to enter the parked, but highly mobile, vehicle without a warrant and to seize the weapons he observed inside. The court further held that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied her motion to sever the murder and assault charges. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.